Flower Piano to bloom again in Golden Gate Park

Music pros, community performers tinkle the ivories throughout botanical garden

By Iris Kwok

Examiner staff writer

The San Francisco Botanical Garden’s sprawling lush greenery soon will come alive with the sounds of 12 grand pianos, including musical stylings created by visitors of all ages and experience levels – basically, anyone who wishes to play.

Following a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, The City’s beloved Flower Piano is set to return to Golden Gate Park from Sept. 17-21.

“It is coming back at a perfect time, allowing our community to heal together through the combination of music and nature,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, in a press release.

The five-day long event will also feature performances by San Francisco native Martin Luther McCoy, The Cottontails, members of the San Francisco Symphony and many other local musicians.

Kash Killion & Killion’s Trillions, a world music group, played a Flower Piano in 2019. (Courtesy Flower Piano)

Kash Killion & Killion’s Trillions, a world music group, played a Flower Piano in 2019. (Courtesy Flower Piano)

For pianist Elizabeth Schumann, who will perform Dvorak’s Piano Quintet with Ensemble SF at 4 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Zellerbach station, the garden served as a needed sanctuary and escape from her digital life over the course of the pandemic.

“I just am so grateful for the chance to be a part of the social energy and cultural and creative vitality of San Francisco again,” said Schumann. “I hope that everybody who comes feels that.”

Visitors are encouraged to play on the pianos in between the scheduled performances. In fact, bringing together the public through the instrument is the crux of Sunset Piano’s project, which began in 2013, when artist Mauro ffortissimo placed an old piano on a foggy bluff in Half Moon Bay.

According to ffortissimo, word spread, and soon after, Sunset Piano was invited to place pianos in different locations — from the Mid-Market corridor in the Tenderloin, to the United Nations Plaza, and finally, to the San Francisco Botanical Garden in 2015, creating Flower Piano.

Ffortissimo said putting together Flower Piano is a “joyful” and “rewarding” experience that allows him to inspire people of all ages to take up or rekindle their love for piano. His tip for first-timers? Bring a blanket and picnic basket, and spend some time fully taking in the cacophonous and stimulating sounds of humans and nature colliding.


Flower Piano

Where: San Francisco Botanical Garden, entrances at Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way, and at Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive off the Music Concourse, S.F.

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 17-21

Tickets: Free for San Francisco residents; $7 to $13 for non-residents

Contact: sfbg.org/flowerpiano

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